To Spin or Not to Spin

What is your opinion Spinning? What should I look for in a program or instructor?

– April 11, 2003

Updated 4/01/2005

Spinning is actually one of several brand names for a type of exercise called group indoor cycling, which involves biking to music under the direction of an instructor. Fitness expert Dan Bornstein tells me that group indoor cycling is one of the safest group fitness classes available because each cyclist is in complete control of his or her workout.

Although instructors may urge you to pedal faster, you control your own level of resistance and revolutions per minute (rpms). What’s more, Dan says that group indoor cycling is a very effective way to burn calories and lose weight and is also a wonderful cross-training tool for someone accustomed to walking or jogging for exercise. However, he does offer a few cautions for first-timers:

  • Make sure you’re set up properly on the bike; your instructor should be able to help.
  • Realize that you’re going to be a bit “saddle sore” after the first few classes. This will improve over time. You can get special cushioning cycling shorts to ease the discomfort, but they’re expensive, and you may not want to make the investment until you know that you like the classes.
  • Be wary of instructors who don’t know you, but push you beyond your limits (this doesn’t apply to instructors who know your body and exercise goals).
  • If you don’t like the instructor or his or her choice of music, try another class with a different instructor. If after three instructors, you still don’t like the classes, find some other type of exercise that you do enjoy.
  • Listen to your body. Slow down and stop pedaling if you’re out of breath, feel nauseous or faint.
  • Check with your doctor if you’re under 14 or over 40 and haven’t exercised before.
  • Make sure that the studio or gym is well equipped for group indoor cycling and that the instructors are certified as group fitness and/or group indoor cycling or Spinning instructors.

Andrew Weil, M.D.

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